Saturday, October 26, 2013

French butter pears ...

I adore French Butter Pears, and I'm sure I've already eaten my weight in the tasty little fruit this season.

If you have a good eye for shape, you'll notice that the French Butter Pear is a little shorter and more round that a Bartlett or Bosc. It's similar to a Comice in size and texture, but far sweeter.

I simply eat this pear out of hand, but a good sharp cheese and a glass of wine would balance the fruit beautifully. To make the most of pear season, I was thinking of making Pear Tarte Tatin. But, then I came across an amazing recipe for Pear Cardamon Clafoutis.

A clafoutis is a rustic, French dessert generally baked with cherries, not totally dissimilar to an American cobbler.  The last clafoutis I ate was in Paris, and I remember it fondly.  It's actually a Proven├žal dish, and this pear version sounds too good to pass up.


1 tablespoon butter
2 pears, peeled cored and sliced into 1/4 in thick wedges
1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lemon
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
4 cardamom pods, crushed with a mortar and pestle (or 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom)

Grease a 9-inch pie plate with butter. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 375°F. Toss pear sliced with lemon juice and place slices of pear in overlapping pattern in greased pie dish.

Whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, cream and vanilla until all the ingredients are well incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour salt and cardamom. Whisk flour mixture into egg mixture, beat for 5 minutes until the batter is smooth then let sit for 10 minutes.

Pour the batter over the pear slices and place in the oven. Bake until cake is puffed and brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve.

Orange groove ...

The falling leaves give us a new color palette each autumn, and brilliant shades of orange and rust are among the most bold. There is no denying the beauty in this parade of pumpkin hues.

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The retro orange velvet chairs have definitely found their groove.  But, my personal preference would be a more subtle shade in leather.

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Tangerine certainly holds its own in any color scheme, but it really shines against a dark backdrop. Charcoal gray and bold orange are a dynamic combo below.


Images above via Designed for Life (left) and The Yellow Cape Cod (right).

Just in case you'd like to get your orange groove on, these beauties can be yours. (clockwise from top left) Fendi Watch at Nordstrom, Leather Tray at Neiman Marcus, Jelly Bean Trolley by Hideo Wakamatsu, and Surya Atlas Rug.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Table terrain ...

Books, books, knick-knack paddy wacks, and throw in a plant. That about sums up the definitive guide on styling a beautiful occasional table top.

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Notice, not just any books will do. Glam up the place with some coffee table tomes that look as chic as their subject matter.


Images above via Slim Paley (left) and High Gloss (right).

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Elegant and interesting. That's what I would like my tables to say. Time to take a fresh look at my tablescapes and make sure dust is not the accessory du jour!

Purple people pleaser ...

Plum, grape and eggplant are ingredients in some truly tasty rooms. As you may have picked up in my previous purple posts (here and here), I'm a fan of the royal hue. I even painted my front door purple this spring!

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Call me crazy, but my purple passion spins around the color wheel from lavender to eggplant, with plum being one of my three favs. The grayed tone of plum is perfectly suited to a modern vibe.


Images above capture plum's subdued personality, (left) via Desire to Decorate and right via Plum Siena.

Then, there is the vibrate purple sibling, grape! With its boisterous charm, it serves as a compelling canvas for art and antiques.

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I'm obsessed with purple plaster like that below. If you ever stop to shop in Boerne, Texas, visit Melissa Jeffery Home on Main Street and take a peek at their fabulous plaster walls in the side room. Gorgeous! 

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Others may look to the pearly gates for ultimate happiness, but I'll be eternally happy in a room with hardwood floors and plastered walls in a deep rich eggplant hue!

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I know, I'm drooling. It's just that the antiqued gold frame hung on eggplant walls in the Bellocq Tea House (above) is sending my head spinning.

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I love how the light plays with purple and the extent of complimentary colors that live beautifully together.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

What makes a mudroom ...

We didn't have a mudroom until after our children were grown and living on their own. Now, I see how valuable that little space would have been during our child-rearing years!

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Muddy shoes and sports gear, backpacks and toys all would have had a place to alight. But, in our snowless region of the country, with no galoshes and coats, architects and builders rarely added mudrooms into homes until recently.

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Apparently, homeowners have found the usefulness of a place to hang your hat and wipe your feet before entering the house. So, the lowly mudroom has become much more in demand.

When we decided to remodel several years ago, I incorporated a mudroom in the design with plenty of hooks for everything. I just now took a look at our space and there are aprons, binoculars for our birdwatching and gathering baskets for harvesting vegetables from the garden. I even have seed packets at the ready for fall planting and small garden tools waiting to head outside.

Of course, there are enough shoes and flip-flops to dress an athletic team. (Mudrooms must be a romantic place for these soles. I'm certain they reproduce when we're not looking.)

Our dog thinks of the mudroom as her carefree zone with dog food storage, as well as feeding and water bowls. We have an assortment of leashes for walking, too.

It's also a mini gallery with vintage artwork on the walls and farm relics set upon the built-in bench.

The mudroom is a great utility space, but one that's fun to dress up a bit, too.

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A little homespun happiness seems to permeate these mudrooms! A great washable rug can add to the welcoming appeal and easy-to-clean floors are a must for ease of maintenance.

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Not all mudrooms are located at the back of the house. Some are so polished, they become a beautiful addition to an entry.

Step inside ...

It's time to rethink the entry foyer before holiday guests arrive. This special space sets a welcoming tone and identifies a sense of place for everyone who enters, including those who call it home.

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Just step inside the front door and look at how successful entries provide a first glimpse of the home's design personality. Casual or formal, an entry foyer can be an artful place to greet guests, drop your keys and bags, and even offer simple seating to pull off those boots.

Images above via Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle (left) and Kathleen Clements Design (right).

We have a small entry, so seating isn't an option for us, but we use generous lighting to expand our space visually.  I think lighting is an important element and should be incorporated into the design. Who wants to enter a home that is dark and eerie?


Images above via Designer Sarah Richardson for HGTV (left) and House Beautiful (right).

I have a preference for neutral paint shades, so I may be a bit prejudice.  But, light walls brighten the entry and serve as a calm palette for personalized decor.


Images via My French Country Home (left) and interior designer Joy Tribout (right).

I'm a fresh flower kind of girl, so I always keep living plants or cut flowers on our foyer table.  There's just something about bringing nature's beauty inside that makes me happy!  And, fragrant flowers always delight the senses as you enter.

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I'm happy with our terra cotta tiled floor and stairs. But, I do think bricks set in a herringbone pattern (above) are glorious. My true obsession is with natural stone, but don't tell my husband. Sometimes, DIY floor projects happen when you least expect them!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Industrial farmhouse kitchen ...

I love hybrid kitchen designs that marry the warmth of a rustic farmhouse with the sensibilities of durable industrial components.

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Beamed ceilings and concrete countertops make me swoon, and stunning neutral color palettes make these kitchens absolutely drool-worthy!

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I've fallen hard for the industrial character that incorporates use of pendant lights, giving these spaces a vintage factory flair. The stripped metal look is nice, but my favorite fixtures are those made of porcelain enamel.

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Lots of rustic wood in tabletops, chairs and shelving create the perfect counter balance to the colder sleek surfaces.


Images above via House Beautiful (left) and Hem-Ligheter (right).

Polished concrete, stone and hardwood floors up the ante and give the industrial farmhouse hybrid a solid foundation for building a unique personality and vision.


Images above via Tumblr (left) and Vintage Chic (right).

I've been collecting images for several years in anticipation of a remodeling our kitchen, and I'm certain that some of this inspiration will make the cut when we eventually get our project moving forward.

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Everything these kitchens serve up is my kind of yummy!

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